Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Blueberries are a popular summer treat. Although they are succulent and have a sweet flavor, they are also a rich source of nutrients. Freshly picked blueberries can be used to make a variety of recipes.
Consuming fruits and vegetables have always been considered beneficial for our health. They play a crucial role in reducing the risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Blueberries decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality. They also help strengthen hair and make our skin smooth and acne-free. Moreover, they improve energy and help to reduce overall weight.
What Are The Benefits Of Blueberries?
Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin. This compound gives the berries their antioxidant value. It is also responsible for the color of the berries.
However, freezing the blueberries decreases their potency. A study, “Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity in different types of berries,” published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, has suggested that over six months in storage, the chief component of blueberries, anthocyanin, degrades by 59 percent.
Here are some health benefits of blueberries:
- Strengthening Bones
Blueberries are rich in iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. Adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals helps in the formation as well as strengthening of bones. Not only that, iron and zinc play a vital role in strengthening and maintaining the elasticity of bones and joints. The deficiency of vitamin K makes the bones brittle and prone to fractures. Vitamin K improves calcium absorption and reduces calcium loss.
- Improving Skin Health
Collagen plays an essential role in improving the health of the skin. Vitamin C helps collagen formation and prevents skin damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. In addition, it smoothes wrinkles and enhances the skin’s texture. One cup of blueberries provides 24 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
- Managing Blood Pressure
Blueberries do not have sodium. Keeping the sodium levels low is essential to keep the blood pressure under control. Additionally, blueberries contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals also help in reducing blood pressure.
- Lowering Blood Glucose Levels
A cup of blueberries contains 3.6 grams of fiber. People with type-2 diabetes who consume a high-fiber diet experience improved blood sugar, lipid, and insulin levels.
A study, “Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies,” published in the British Medical Journal, suggested that certain fruits can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes in adults. Throughout the research, it was concluded that people who consume three servings of fruits per week consisting of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples, or pears reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes by 7 percent.
- Protection Against Heart Disease
Blueberries are rich in nutrients like fiber, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6, which help in improving heart health. The absence of cholesterol in blueberries makes it a suitable fruit for improving cardiac health. Moreover, fiber decreases cholesterol levels as well.
In addition, vitamin B6 and folate prevent the formation of homocysteine, which can damage blood vessels and cause heart problems. According to a study, “Blueberries improve endothelial function, but not blood pressure, in adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial,” published in Nutrients, consuming anthocyanins daily can reduce the chances of heart attack by at least 32 percent in young and middle-aged women.
- Prevention Of Cancer
Vitamin C, vitamin A, and phytonutrients present in blueberries act as antioxidants that can protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants inhibit the growth of tumors, decrease inflammation in the body, and help to decrease the incidence of cancers of the esophagus, lungs, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, and prostate. In addition, blueberries contain folate, which helps in synthesizing and repairing DNA. This prevents the formation of cancer cells due to mutations in the DNA.
- Improving Digestion
Blueberries can prevent constipation due to their high fiber content. In addition, dietary fiber helps in weight loss and acts as a bulking agent in the digestive system.
Why Do Blueberries Cause Diarrhea?
Blueberries can cause diarrhea either due to food poisoning or as a part of food allergy or sensitivity. A few reasons behind diarrhea after eating blueberries are:-
- Fructose Intolerance
Some people find it hard to digest fructose. Fructose is present in fruits, vegetables, juices, honey, and high-fructose corn syrup. As a result of fructose intolerance, one may experience diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Blueberries have a relatively low quantity of fructose, but they can trigger these symptoms if eaten in large quantities.
- Allergic To Blueberries
The immune system considers certain food items harmful. An overactive immune system can cause allergic symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, swelling, shortness of breath, or anaphylaxis, after the consumption of blueberries. The doctor may prescribe antihistamines, steroids, or epinephrine, depending on the severity.
- Food Poisoning
During their growth and processing, blueberries may get contaminated with germs such as Salmonella, E.coli, and Listeria. Food poisoning can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and low-grade fever. Although most of the symptoms are mild and do not cause any long-term complications, high fever and severe diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and make you weak. To avoid food poisoning from berries, one should wash them thoroughly before eating.
- Sensitive To Salicylate
Salicylate is a compound found naturally in fruits and vegetables, including blueberries. If one is sensitive to aspirin, one may experience salicylate poisoning symptoms like headache, nasal congestion, skin rash, swelling of hands, inflammation of the eyes, stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea.
Can Blueberries Help With Diarrhea?
Although blueberries can cause diarrhea, they can also help control some people’s conditions. Blueberries are used to relieve constipation due to their high-fiber content and other properties. In some conditions, if a person is allergic or sensitive to some of the constituents of blueberries, it may cause diarrhea.
When diarrhea sets in, one may only tolerate a low-fiber diet. As acute diarrhea improves, high-fiber food like blueberries may help regularise bowel movements. Blueberries are placed high in the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) as they contain large quantities of bioactive compounds.
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